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Tis’ the Season to Upgrade Your Home Studio! November 7, 2009

Posted by ConnorSmith in : Digital home recording studios, Project Studio, Studio Setup , trackback

…so the holidays aren’t here for over a month, but now is a good time to start deciding on what new studio goodies you’ll be looking for.

Upgrading your recording setup is a very tricky and important process.  Spending the right amount of money on the right piece(s) of gear can be daunting.  The last thing you need is to be in debt on a piece of gear that you don’t actually need or to get an awesome deal on an insignificant upgrade.First things first – figure out your needs and goals!

Are you a studio that primarily does voiceover work?  Do you frequently record rock bands (specifically drum kits) and require 8+ channels at a time?  Are you mostly concerned with sound design or audio-for-video?  Your studio’s requirements will carry the most weight in this upgrade decision making process.  Figuring these things out is more important than figuring out your budget.  Also think about the future – if you normally do singer/songwriter recordings, but have the ambition (and space!) to start taking band clients, then perhaps that’s the path to take.

Second – Show me the money!

Now that you know your short- and long-term goals for the studio, you need to have the hard conversation: $$$$$.  Fear not though – great upgrades are available for almost any studio at any budget.  What I usually recommend is to figure out the maximum money you’d like to spend, and also consider what you have the cash for and what will be on credit.  Unless a piece of gear will absolutely be used to generate consistent money for you, I would not put it on credit.  While I am not a financial analyst, I do feel comfortable saying that fiscal responsibility is a very important consideration for studio owners.

Third – Start listing.

OK – so you know what features your studio needs and you know how much green you have available.  Time to open the catalogs and search engines and start looking for product.  But how do you know if a piece of gear or software is good/bad?  Start by doing internet searches for reviews.  While these reviews aren’t the end-all of information, they often can give you a general idea of how the product is accepted.  Also compare user reviews to those from magazines and distributors.  If this is a piece of gear that connects to (or installs on) your computer, check manufacturer’s websites for compatibility information.  Almost nothing is worse than waiting a month to get a piece only to find out it won’t work on your system.

Fourth – Compare and contrast

From here, I usually make an Excel spreadsheet that lists the features, pros, cons, and prices of similar pieces of gear.  Now it comes down to reviews, gut reactions, and hopefully demo experience.  Try to find a friend or peer that has used any of this gear.  Call your dealer and see if they offer demo periods on any of the products.  Find a local studio that has the piece and see if you can visit to check it out.  Plus – you can post on TheStudioFiles.com and we will be happy to help guide you through your purchases (more on that in a sec).

As far as questions like:

What do I buy first – converters, preamps, mics, etc? How much to invest in acoustic treatment? Should I upgrade my computer? Do I need new plug-ins? What’s the best studio upgrade for under 500$?

Unfortunately these are usually only addressable on an individual basis.  You will need to take into account a number of variables, most of which concentrate on the status quo of your existing setup.  Feel free to post your upgrade questions here (or elsewhere on the site) and we will help guide you through them.  If these are more significant upgrade questions (that would require longer conversations etc.) please feel free to email me.


The Studio Files


1. sylvain - August 9, 2011

je veux recevoir le logitiel ou le setup du studio

2. Craig - August 21, 2012

Hello, I’m currently an owner of a Lexicon Alpha, Shure SM58, Samson CO3, Behringer Mic200 ultragain preamp and M-Audio Studiophile AV-40(yes budget stuff:)). I’m a vocalist of a metalband, so I yell alot. I especially want to upgrade my Lexicon(perhaps to a Presonus 44VSL or a Focusrite 8i6 or Motu Audio Express) and buy the SM7B but I only have the budget for one of them. Could you or anybody else help me? I would really appreciate it thank you!

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